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Do Not Go to Graduate School

An interesting forum from back in 2010:

If you’ve considered going to graduate school in history, come to a History Graduate School Panel discussion on Tuesday at 7:00 pm in Griffin 7. Professors Dubow, Fishzon, and Kittleson will speak about their own graduate school experiences, and will answer any questions you might have.

Good stuff. Kudos to the professors involved for taking the time to participate. Comments:

1) Relevant discussion here and here. I second Professor Sam Crane’s remarks:

In fact, I tell them the academic job market is horrible, has been bad for a long, long time, and is getting worse. I tell them that getting a job like the one I have is unlikely. I tell them that they should go on for a Ph.D. only if they truly love the learning, because that is something they will be certain to have for a lifetime, regardless of what job they find themselves with. And for some of them, that is what it is about. Love of learning, regardless of whether they get an ideal academic job.

This was true in 2010 and is even more true now. It is true, not just in history and political science but in almost every academic field. If anything, areas like physics and biology are even worse, mainly because of the volume of Ph.Ds which they produce.

My only quibble with Sam’s comments might be to clarify that a love of learning is not enough of a reason to justify graduate school in history. With the internet as your oyster, you can pursue learning as much as your free time allows without going to graduate school.

2) Read Derek Catsam ’93:

[G]raduate students and those looking at entering this competitive world need to be cognizant of the realities. If you are planning to enter a field like, say, US history, it is probably incumbent upon you to know the odds. Further, it seems to me that it is pretty irresponsible of those of us with the ability to advise students if we emphasize the great aspects of intellectual life within the academy and do not point out the reality — your odds of getting the PhD are smaller than you think, your odds of getting a job are slighter still, and your odds of getting tenure at a place yet smaller, and then all of this happening at a place you would otherwise choose to live? Infinitesimal.

Also Swarthmore Professor Tim Burke:

Should I go to graduate school?

Short answer: no.

Long answer: maybe, but only if you have some glimmering of what you are about to do to yourself. Undergraduates coming out of liberal arts institutions are particularly vulnerable to ignorance in this regard. …

Just don’t try graduate school in an academic subject with the same spirit of carefree experimentation. Medical school, sure. Law school, no problem. But a Ph.D in an academic field? Forget it. If you take one step down that path, I promise you, it’ll hurt like blazes to get off, even if you’re sure that you want to quit after only one year.

Two years in, and quitting will be like gnawing your own leg off.

Past that, and you’re talking therapy and life-long bitterness.

Burke is right. I hope that the panelists back then, whether or not they agreed with Burke, made sure that students know what some historians believe. I worry that such an event might too easily have degenerated into a “You are all smart Williams students who should dream big and live large!” Nothing wrong with that advice when a student asks if she should try a difficult upper-level seminar, but Ephs need a more reality-based answer when leaving the Purple Bubble. Large numbers of students in the class of 2019 who are going to graduate school are making a mistake. Professor Sara Dubow is, no doubt, a wonderful, hard-working professor. But there is also a sense in which she won the lottery . . .

3) Key data would be a listing of all the Ephs who went to graduate school in, for example, history from 1990 through 2000. Where are they now? What happened to them along the way? If there were 50, I bet that fewer than 40 made it to Ph.D., fewer than 20 got any tenure-track jobs at all, and fewer than 5 got tenure. How many got tenure at a place that pays as well as Williams? I don’t know. In fact, I have trouble coming up with many Eph historians of that era, other than our own Derek Catsam ’93, Sara Dubow ’91 and Eiko Maruko Siniawer ’97. Pointers welcome!

4) There are some fields — like economics, statistics and computer science — in which supply/demand are more in balance. There are still nice academic jobs at places like Williams and plenty of opportunities in industry.

5) Never attend a Ph.D. program which is not fully funded.

6) The 2010 comment thread includes excellent discussion. I miss the old EphBlog!

7) Still want to get a Ph.D. even though you are fully aware of the likely outcomes? Cool! EphBlog fully supports informed decision-making. Our main point here is to encourage you to be fully informed. Graduate school in history can be fun and rewarding! Just be sure to have a back-up plan . . .

UPDATE: First version of this post went up 8 years ago. What is the academic job market like? Consider what happened to the professors who participated in the panel.

Roger Kittleson was already tenured at the time of the panel. Life at Williams is (I hope!) good. What sort of advice does he give to history students today?

Sara Dubow is now a full professor of history at Williams. She is our lottery winner.

Anna Fishzon is listed as a “Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia University in the City of New York.” But she still lists her Williams assistant professor position at the top of her profile, so it is not clear how much substance there is to the Columbia position. Even though she did great work in graduate school — which is the only way she got hired by Williams in the first place — there is no (stable) job for her in academia. Is there one for you, Dear Reader? Probably not.

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34 Honor Code Violations

A letter to the faculty:

Dear Colleagues,

Most of you heard Nick Goldrosen, the student chair of the honor committee at yesterday’s faculty meeting.

More transparency, please. Were there slides? A printed report? Share it with the community. Faculty Meetings are, essentially, public events, with Record reporters generally (still?) in attendance.

As faculty chair, I’d like to add a few words as well. After all, the committee heard 34 cases in 2017-18 (!!! for comparison, ten years ago the number was 15), many of them resulting in sanctions of failure in the assignment or failure in the course.

There were also 34 incidents in 2012-2013. Shevchenko is being sloppy (misleading?) to pretend that there has been a steady increase over the last decade. If the latest number is exactly the same as the number 5 years ago, there probably isn’t a crisis . . .

We would love to do all we can to bring the number of violations (and thus, affected students) down this year.

Would we? (And I am not just referring to the poor writing suggested by the desire to bring down affected students.)

The easiest way to bring the number down is to stop enforcing/investigating incidents. See no evil! Of course, I am against this, but how do we know the increase this year is because the underlying rate of cheating has gone up as opposed to an increase in enforcement efficacy. Maybe cheating at Williams has been constant for 10 (or 100 years) but its detection has varied over time.

As you know, all Williams students sign the honor code before they can register for classes. They also likely read a statement about the honor code on your class syllabi. However, it appears that this is far from sufficient as a deterrent from honor code violations.

D’oh! Who ever thought it was? The fear of punishment is the deterrent that will work best on Williams students. Read excerpts from past Honor Committee Reports to your class. That will lower cheating.

If left at that, the honor code may inadvertently come across as a mere formality, which does an enormous injustice to the values it is designed to uphold, and to the students themselves.

Exactly. And this is the faculty’s fault! Contemporary syllabi are so jammed full of required junk that, almost by definition, the importance of any one bit has to decrease. If you spend more time on pronouns and diversity, then you have to spend less time on the honor code. There is no free lunch.

In order to make sure the honor code does what it is supposed to do, i.e. ensures academic integrity of the work done at the college, all of us need to take time in our classes to convey to students (a) how the specific parameters of our assignments relate to the honor code (that is, the details of our expectations regarding the use of outside sources, group work and citation format for each individual assignment), and (b) just how much is at stake, for them individually and for Williams as a community, in upholding these.

Blah, blah, blah. If you want to reach college students where they live, if you actually want to change their behavior, then you need to avoid soporific tripe like this and focus on the concrete. Read them this:

A junior was brought to the Honor Committee due to concerns about plagiarism. The professor noted that sections of several papers appeared to come directly
from online sources. Following the Honor Committee’s hearing and deliberations, they determined that the student violated the honor code on multiple occasions by using ideas and direct quotations from other sources without citation. The committee recommended a sanction of failure in the course.

Read a couple of these and . . . pause . . . and say, “If you cheat in my class, I will catch you and you will fail the course.

Faculty who do this (certainly?) face less cheating than faculty who prattle on about “how much is at stake.” Most Williams faculty, sadly, are unwilling to confront students so directly.

Back to the letter.

Our students come from a range of academic backgrounds, and many are working on a steep learning curve as they develop the command of academic language and conventions.

This is strange. Does Shevchenko mean to suggest that many/most cheating cases result from different “backgrounds?” This is not implausible. Andover teaches you not to cheat because its faculty teach thoroughly. Perhaps, at a lousy high school, students don’t really learn how to use information from the internet correctly/honestly?

But Shevchenko never says this directly and, reading between the lines of the annual reports, it looks like the vast majority of cases are not caused by differing “academic backgrounds.” The cheaters know that they are cheating.

The attention you give to the code of academic integrity in your class helps them all to arrive at a shared understanding of the honor code’s purpose and of their role in upholding it.

This is a testable hypothesis! Randomly assign some professors to make a big deal about cheating and some to do whatever they normally do. Does giving the honor code more “attention” cause a decrease in cheating?

If Williams were an actual “leader” in undergraduate education, these are the sorts of questions that we would be exploring — carefully and rigorously — each semester.

Oftentimes, honor code violations occur because the students are caught in the trees so much that they fail to see the forest: they are freaking out about a grade, running out of time, or dealing with external stress.

Does this metaphor work? “Caught in the trees?” Anyway, this suggests that the problem is not differing backgrounds. The cheaters know. They just feel compelled to cheat because of these pressures. (By the way, it would be good to collect and distribute anonymous interviews with punished students.) Again, the best way to deter such “calculated” cheating is by demonstrating that it will fail.

To prevent these scenarios, it is our role as faculty to remind them of the larger purpose of the honor system. It’s also helpful to make sure the students know that consequences of cheating far outweigh the elusive gains they may be hoping to achieve by cutting corners. Speaking about academic integrity in class proactively and specifically, and giving them the tools to do the right thing early on sends the students a signal that you take academic honesty seriously, and ensures that they do too.

Shevchenko needs an editor. How is this any different than what she wrote above?

We wish you all a great semester of teaching and learning, and thank you for taking action to help your students uphold the values of academic integrity in your classes. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you come across something that looks like an honor case, or simply if you have any thoughts or concerns pertaining to the honor system.

Olga Shevchenko, on behalf of the Honor Committee.

More transparency, please.

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Integrative Global Studies

This seems fishy to me.

The Board of Supervisors accepted a bid on the Lucerne Hotel, also known as the Lucerne Castle, for $2.5 million from the Romero Institute at their Tuesday, Aug. 21 meeting.

The Romero Institute is a social justice-focused nonprofit law and public policy center based in Santa Cruz.

The Romero Institute proposal states that they intend to turn the Lucerne Hotel into a four-year educational institution which will offer a Bachelor of Arts degree in Integrative Global Studies and a University Extension Program.

The institution is a partnership with the support of the University of San Francisco, Williams College, Rice University, Kansas State University, Loyola Marymount and the University of Manitoba.

Either the folks at the Romero Institute are making a bs claim about our involvement (which would be illegal, especially in the context of a public bid) or someone at Williams, for silly or nefarious reasons, has gotten us involved with a boondoggle on the other side of the country. Let’s hope for the former!

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Treason

From iBerkshires:

protest

Mother Nature was not the only one who may have made revelers at the town’s annual Fourth of July celebrations a little uncomfortable.

A group of nine young people turned out at the parade and annual reading of the founding documents with thought-provoking signs that provided a balanced perspective to a day that, for some, is all about patriotism.

Dressed in plain black T-shirts and holding placards with messages like, “End Prison Slavery,” and, “No One Is Illegal on Stolen Land,” the group stepped onto Spring Street a little ahead of the parade as the American Legion Color Guard made its way around the corner from Main Street.

The protesters, who appeared to be college- age, then walked the parade route as a group before circling back individually with their signs displayed — making sure their messages were delivered even as parade units ranging from the Williamstown Select Board to the North Adams SteepleCats waved to the crowd in the background.

Later, the same group of protesters filed into Williams College’s Sawyer Library just before the traditional reading of the nation’s founding documents and held the same signs silently at the front of the audience gathered to hear actors from Williamstown Theatre Festival perched on the walkway above.

The president of the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce, who organizes the parade, said she was not sure whether the group had asked to be included in that event, but she welcomed its presence.

“Isn’t that what America is about?” Victoria Saltzman said. “This is an example. It’s quintessentially America that we can celebrate and protest at the same time.”

From this tweet, we find these flyers, presumably (?) distributed by the same group:

DhRvHwAXcAEDhp9

Below the break are more photos:

001-070418_williamstown_parade--001

002-070418_williamstown_parade--003

003-070418_williamstown_parade--004

Are they all students?

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Zach Wood ’18 in the New York Times

Zach writes:

Lessons From 2,000 Hours on a Public Bus

I used to be ashamed about what it took for me to get to school every morning. Now I realize it was an education of its own.

During my high school career I spent more than 2,000 hours on public transportation. Two hours to and from the elite suburban prep school I attended for three years. Four hours total for each of the 180 days of the school year. And that was only if there was no traffic.

Here was the drill: I’d wake up at 4:50 a.m. in the dilapidated duplex in Ward 8 of Washington that I shared with my father, grandmother, uncle and younger sister.

It was too early for me to be hungry, and our kitchen rarely had much food anyway. So skipping breakfast became a habit. After willing myself out of bed, usually on three to four hours of sleep, I’d take a shower to wake myself up, get dressed and head out to catch the Metrobus at 5:15 a.m.

Finally, my commute taught me humility.

I don’t doubt that there were people in my neighborhood who could have done more to help themselves and set a better example for their children. But I also know that there were many young men and women whose attitudes toward life, family and education would have been vastly different if they’d benefited from a fraction of the opportunities I’d found thanks to an extremely hard-working father and the luck of an excellent education. My experience has taught me that pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is a myth: Achieving social mobility requires far more than will and ability. It’s nearly impossible to rise without other people helping you pull yourself up.

Read the whole thing. Zach’s memoir, Uncensored, is at its best in his descriptions of the realities of poverty in America.

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Mandel Induction

Today is Maud Mandel’s induction as Williams President. The speeches start around 4:00 PM. Any readers interested in a live-blog stream of consciousness commentary accompanying the live-stream?

UPDATE:

1) No one does? Sad!

2) Dean of the Faculty Denise Buell is always good for a new word of nonsense. In this case, “minoritize.” You’re welcome.

3) We need to have a betting pool about whether or not Mandel will use the same almonds-Mark-Hopkins joke as several previous presidents have done. I hope she does! It is a guaranteed laugh and a fun bit of history. I bet she does. Any takers?

4) There will certainly be discussion of Mark Hopkins and the Log. But will Mandel mention Robert Gaudino and “Uncomfortable Learning,” as Adam Falk did 8 years ago? I hope so! Obviously, she won’t directly mention the Derbyshire-banning, but a nod toward open discussion of uncomfortable ideas would be much appreciated.

And Maud Mandel takes the stage! No more updates from me . . . unless you follow EphBlog on Twitter!

Whoops! Spoke too soon . . .

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Gonzalez as Director of the Office of Human Resources

If we are going to hire more administrators, then I much prefer that they are promoted from within, as in this case, rather than brought in after pseudo “nationwide” searches. Congrats to Gonzalez!

From: Fred Puddester
Date: September 5, 2018 at 3:05:10 PM EDT
To: WILLIAMS-PERSONNEL@LISTSERV.WILLIAMS.EDU
Subject: Human Resources Director
Reply-To: Fred Puddester

Dear Williams Community,

It is my pleasure to announce that Danielle Gonzalez has accepted the offer to become the next director of the Office of Human Resources.

Danielle has been with the college for more than a decade and has served in many roles during her time here. She started at Williams as our Employment Manager and has been promoted into positions of increasing responsibility over her time here. She currently serves as Deputy Director of the office.

Shortly after arriving at the college, she was the staff administrator of the search committee that selected President Falk. That experience provided important insights into the entire Williams community, including trustees, faculty, students, staff and alumni.

Also, early in her career she co-facilitated workshops focused on building an inclusive and diverse community. More than 500 staff members attended these meetings and they provided an important foundational learning experience for staff about how they could foster a more inclusive community.

In 2013 and 2014 Danielle served as co-chair of the Committee on Diversity and Community. During her tenure, the committee made recommendations regarding improving performance evaluations and finding ways for the staff to have more influence in decisions on campus. More recently she has worked closely with colleagues in HR to establish a process for on-boarding individuals who identify as transgender or gender non-binary and currently serves on the Trans-Inclusion Working Group. She has a deep and abiding passion for supporting staff in every way, as well as recruiting and engaging historically underrepresented individuals.

Danielle’s influence extends beyond the Williams campus. She led a group to create the 1Berkshire Youth Leadership program, which engages high school juniors in career exploration and leadership skill development. She also served as a board member and scholar mentor for Greylock ABC, whose mission is to support young people of color through education opportunities. And Danielle currently serves on the Board of Directors for 1Berkshire, the primary advocacy group for the economic, civic, and social welfare of Berkshire County.

On a personal note, over the past seven years I have seen, first hand, Danielle’s dedication to staff, her deep commitment to diversity and inclusion and her passion for recruiting and developing the best people to come to Williams. She excels at developing strong strategic partnerships on campus and is someone department heads routinely seek out for advice. I’m delighted that she will continue her career here at the college in this important leadership role.

I want to thank the members of the search committee — Toya Camacho, Keli Gail, Barron Koralesky, Rhon Manigault-Bryant, Lisa Melendy, G.L. Wallace, Bob Wright and Bob Volpi — and all the faculty and staff that assisted in this search.

Please join me in congratulating Danielle and supporting her in this new role.

Fred

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Faculty Meeting Next Week

Given that this material, sent out to 300+ people, is essentially public, the College ought to just publish it on the web page for the Dean of the Faculty.

Dear Colleagues:

We look forward to seeing you at the first faculty meeting of the semester on September 12 at 4:00 p.m. in Griffin 3. At the end of the meeting, there will be a small reception in Griffin to welcome the new faculty.

The agenda and related materials are attached to this email.

Best,

The Faculty Steering Committee & Maud Mandel, President of the College
Sara Dubow (Chair), Division II
Colin Adams, Division III
Michelle Apotsos, Division I
Matt Carter, Division III
Aparna Kapadia, Division II
Amanda Wilcox, Division I

Notice anything interesting in the pdf?

I enjoyed this whine:

1. Apparently (?) some faculty complained that the tuition grant is not as generous as they had assumed because other colleges discount financial aid awards accordingly. Questions:

a) What is the current tuition grant? I have a vague memory that it is half of Williams tuition. Or is it half of whatever the tuition charge is?

b) Is this grant just for faculty or for all staff? If it is for everyone, that it must be pretty expensive. If it is just faculty, then how does the College get away with such a benefit? (My understanding is that any organization needs to be very careful when it makes benefits non-uniform across employees.)

c) How does the College handle this for employees who send their kids to Williams? The right approach is to treat all students/families the same.

2) I like the explicit statement that the College reserves the right to change/end this absurd program. (And note how unfair it is to faculty who either don’t have children and/or don’t send their children to college.) We ought to end it now, at least for new hires.

The best way to predict the behavior of Williams is to imagine that it run by a cabal of clever insiders, intent on milking the institution for everything they can, financially and otherwise. Further evidence:

It is bad enough that the College offers any mortgage assistance at all. What are we running? A bank? Faculty should borrow money just like the rest of us! But notice the increasing levels of sleaze here. It used to be that the College would only subsidize your primary residence. Now, you can have one house wherever you like — and, of course, it is pathetic that the College has faculty who reside elsewhere — and then the College will subsidize a second home for you in Williamstown.

Perhaps the good news is that, when the next financial crisis hits, there will be plenty of fat to cut . . .

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Fall 2018 Course Advice

Fall classes start tomorrow. Our advice:

Your major does not matter! One of the biggest confusions among Williams students is the belief that future employers care about your major, that, for example, studying economics helps you get a job in business. It doesn’t! So, major in what you love.

But future employers are often interested in two things. First, can you get the computer to do what you want it to do? Second, can you help them analyze data to make them more successful? Major in Dance (if you love dance) but take 4 or so classes in computer science and statistics. With that as background, you will be competitive with any of your Williams classmates when it comes time to apply for internships/jobs.

Take a tutorial every semester. The more tutorials you take, the better your Williams education will be. There are few plausible excuses for not taking a tutorial every semester. Although many tutorials are now filled, others are not.

Too many first years take a big intro class because they think they “should.” They shouldn’t! Even a “bad” tutorial at Williams is better than almost all intro courses. If you are a first year and you don’t take a tutorial, you are doing it wrong. Note that, even if you don’t have the official prerequisites for a class, you should still enroll. The pre-reqs almost never matter and professors will always (?) let you into a tutorial with empty spots.

By the way, where can we find data about how popular tutorials are? For example, do most/all tutorials end up filled? How many students attempted to enroll in each one? More transparency!

Take STAT 201 (if you enter Williams with Math/Reading SAT scores below 1300, you might start with STAT 101). No topic is more helpful in starting your career, no matter your area of interest, than statistics. Students who take several statistics courses are much more likely to get the best summer internships and jobs after Williams. Also, the new Statistics major is amazing.

Skip STAT 201 if you took AP Statistics. Go straight to STAT 202 instead. And don’t worry about the stupid math prerequisites that the department tries to put in your way. You don’t really need multivariate calculus for 201 or matrix algebra for the more advanced classes. Those math tricks come up in a couple of questions on a couple of problem sets. Your friends (and some Khan Academy videos) will get you through it. If challenged, just tell people you took those classes in high school.

Take CSCI 134: Diving into the Deluge of Data. Being able to get the computer to do what you want it to do is much more important, to your future career, than most things, including, for example, the ability to write well. You might consider skipping 134 and going directly to 136, but 134 seems to be a much better course than it was in the past, especially with the use of Python and the focus on data.

If a professor tries to tell you the class is full, just claim to be future major in that topic. Indeed, many students officially enroll as statistics or computer science majors sophomore year to ensure that they get into the classes they want. You can always drop a major later. Mendacity in the pursuit of quality classes is no vice.

See our previous discussions. Here are some thoughts from 11 (?) years ago about course selections for a career in finance.

What courses would you recommend? What was the best class you took at Williams?

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Jeremiad and Eulogy, 8

Pomona Professor John Seery‘s article, “Somewhere Between a Jeremiad and a Eulogy,” is a moving description of the changes at elite liberal arts colleges over the last 30 years. (See here for a shorter version.) Almost everything he writes about Pomona is just as true of Williams, including the death of faculty governance, the growth of college staff and out-of-control administrator salaries. Let’s spend a week two weeks going through it. Day 8.

Seery has lots of complaints about the current crop of elite liberal arts college presidents.

Of the top ten best-paid SLAC presidents, nine had absolutely no prior experience in a SLAC, either as a student or professor, before being named president of one. None of the ten best-paid SLAC presidents had been a SLAC professor in his/her previous curriculum vitae. (One of the top ten had been an undergraduate at a SLAC; that’s the sum total of the collective liberal arts experience.)

Adam Falk was probably included in this analysis. He certainly had no small college experience prior to Williams.

Now, I imagine that some of my market-minded friends might jump in at this point to lecture me about the irresistible market forces that have virtually compelled these presidents to accept these lavish salaries so prudently offered to them. . . . Turns out on closer inspection, however, that none of these SLAC presidents on the 2014 compensation scale was ever a CEO in the business world (nor do any former SLAC presidents get CEO-business offers upon retiring), so the “market pressures” for ratcheting up salaries come largely from some conjured trajectory from within academe.

Correct! This is a fight that I get into all the time. There is no such thing as a “market” for college presidents.

1) There are way more plausible applicants than there are positions. Virtually every current Provost and Dean of the Faculty at all 11 NESCAC schools is a reasonable candidate for the Williams presidency. Alas, we can’t hire all 22 of them! Consider the 10 candidates on the short list for the Williams presidency. The vast majority will never be a college president.

2) There is no good way to forecast presidential performance. You can talk about a market for baseball players because it is possible to forecast their future performance based on their recent (documented and objective!) performance. Players who hit a lot of homers last year are likely to hit a lot of homers next year. There is nothing like that when it comes to administrators. No one on Earth knows, for example, who of the 11 NESCAC provosts has done the best job in the last year. Almost no one can even name half of them!

3) It is very hard to measure presidential performance. Who is, today, the best NESCAC president? No one knows! Only a handful of people can even name all 11 presidents. (I can’t name more than 3.)

Should I rant longer on this topic?

UPDATE: This post was originally scheduled to appear on February during our series on Seery. I will change the date on it so it fits in better there.

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Two New Administrators

From a faculty friend:

From: Marlene Sandstrom
Date: Thu, Aug 30, 2018 at 10:39 PM
Subject: A hearty introduction
To: WILLIAMS-FACULTY@listserv.williams.edu

Dear Williams Community,

I am excited to announce two new members of the Williams Community.

Hannah Lipstein joins the Dean’s Office in her new role as Violence Prevention Coordinator. Hannah will be working closely with Meg Bossong, Director of Sexual Assault Response and Prevention, to extend our long-term preventative education work on campus. Hannah comes to us from a domestic violence direct service organization in Boston specifically serving the LGBTQ+ community. She also brings a wealth of expertise from her recent undergraduate experience as a student anti-violence organizer and peer advocate at Wellesley College.. We are very excited to welcome Hannah to our team.

Ivy Krofta joins us as a Peer Tutor Coordinator. Ivy will be working closely with Laura Muller, Director of Quantitative Skills Programs and Peer Support, to manage the day to day operations of our Peer Academic Support Network. Ivy is a 2013 graduate of MCLA with a degree in degree in English/Communications. She studied Spanish at the International Language Institute in Northampton, and is certified as an ESL educator. Some of you may know Ivy from her long time work at Bonnie Lea Farm. Ivy’s home base will be in in the Academic Resource Center (2nd floor of Paresky)

Please join me in welcoming Hannah and Ivy to Williams.

All best wishes,

Marlene

Marlene J. Sandstrom
Dean of the College and Hales Professor of Psychology
Williams College
Phone: (413) 597-4261
Fax: (413) 597-3507

Is there any amount of hiring that would make the trustees, ask: “How many people do you really need to run Williams?”

My recommendation is the same as always: Fewer administrators and more faculty involvement in administration.

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State of AI

Want 159 slides about the what’s going in in Artificial Intelligence? Eph Nathan Benaich has you covered.

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Hopkins Forest

From the Eagle:

Amos Lawrence Hopkins, railroad tycoon and son of Williams College renowned president Mark Hopkins, aggregated modest holdings at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th in order to create a gentleman’s farm on Northwest Hill Road in Williamstown. Some of the town’s most popular hiking trails cross his former estate, which is now managed by the college’s Center for Environmental Studies as a 2,600-acre experimental forest.

Buxton Farms, as he called it, was an agricultural show place, overseen for many years by Arthur and Ella Rosenburg, for whom the college’s classroom facilities, in the former carriage barn, are named. The main house, near the road, was demolished.

Maybe you should try a Moon-light walk. Adelia Moon and her husband, Andrew Jackson Moon, lived off the land in the midst of what Hopkins later acquired. When her husband died, she remarried another Moon, her nephew Alfred. He refused Hopkins’ offers buy their farm. The holdout was immortalized by the town’s American Revolution Bicentennial project, when Peter McChesney, other Williams students and townspeople dismantled Mr. Moon’s barn and reassembled it near the Rosenburg Center as an agricultural museum. The Moon house no longer exists.

Col. Hopkins died in 1912. His widow gave Buxton Farms to the college in 1934. The college deeded it to the U.S. Forest Service as a research facility. The Forest Service, having established research plots, turned the land back to the college in 1968. Williams has increased the holdings by buying, finally, the Moon lot — which had passed to the Primmer family — and others, as well as receiving gifts of land. It now includes land in New York and Vermont. The college continues the same research plots and other Forest Service studies, which explains the caution given to hikers to stay on the trails — and the colorful ribbons off in the woods.

Should EphBlog spend more time on history and less on (boring!) politics?

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student pronouns

Are my “friends” on the faculty punking me, sending me absurd parodies of Administration e-mails which make me seem stupidly naive for publishing them? Latest example:

From: “Buell, Denise”
Date: August 28, 2018 at 5:57:17 PM GMT+2
To: WILLIAMS-FACULTY@LISTSERV.WILLIAMS.EDU
Subject: student pronouns
Reply-To: “Buell, Denise”

Dear Colleagues,

Williams College is committed to building a community where everyone is a full member. Part of this commitment involves acknowledging gender diversity on campus and respectfully addressing our students and peers. How we practice language matters, and being attentive to what pronouns we use allows us to respect the multi-faceted identities of our community members. Everyone has the right to be addressed as they should be, and we leave that to each individual to determine.

With this in mind, we are pleased to announce that the Office of Institutional Technology and the Registrar’s Office are working to facilitate appropriate pronoun identification for faculty, students and staff. The first step in this process has been to give students the option to submit their pronouns in PeopleSoft, and to make student pronouns available to faculty on class rosters in PeopleSoft as well as to academic advisors in their Advisor Center/My Advisee section. (Please note that at this time, they will not be available via GLOW.)

The process for students is simple. Students will select pronouns per instructions provided to them by the Registrar’s Office. A student’s pronoun will be indicated on the class roster in PeopleSoft under a “pronoun” column. When or if a student changes pronouns at any point during the term (even after add/drop), faculty instructors and academic advisors will receive an email notification from PeopleSoft indicating that one or more students submitted a pronoun update, and they will be directed to their roster.

For now, this change will take place at the student level. The Office of Institutional Technology, Human Resources, and the Registrar’s Office are working diligently to ensure that the pronoun identification process can be made available for faculty and staff. This is an effort that will take some time, and that is greatly impacted by the technological limitations of our current systems. Faculty and staff will be notified of these forthcoming changes as they occur.

As Faculty, one of our key teaching responsibilities is to create inclusive learning communities. In our classrooms, we set examples for students everyday for how to engage each other with respect. As you know, the way we speak to others matter and can make a profound difference in someone’s life. As you consider strategies for pronoun use, you may find the accompanying list of resources below helpful.

If you have any additional questions or need additional information, please contact any member of the Offices of the Dean of the Faculty, Institutional Diversity and Equity, and the Registrar.

best,

Denise K. Buell

Office of the Dean of the Faculty

You may find the following resources helpful:

A guide to pronoun practices at Williams, which includes lists of existing pronoun choices, as well as strategies for pronoun use.

See also Some helpful information about Name Change Policies on the Registrar’s website.

And, many have found the “‘Ask Me’: What LGBTQ Students Want Their Professors to Know” to be an especially handy resource.

We would also like to share below the following information that the Office of the Registrar has provided to students to help guide them in their practices.

Why should I select a pronoun?

Informing the community of your pronouns helps everyone address you appropriately and respects everyone’s right to be addressed as they should be.

What are the pronoun choices?

The following list is not exhaustive.

she/her/hers
he/him/his
they/them/theirs
ze/zir/zirs
zhe/zher/zhers
name/name/name (e.g. Kris would like Kris’ things for Kris)

other (fill in the blank with your pronoun choice.)

Some pronouns dos and don’ts:

Do!

DO-If you would like to ask someone’s pronoun, start by offering your pronoun first, “Hi, I’m ____. I use the pronouns ____. What about you?” It is good practice to ask which pronouns a person uses, instead of assuming.

DO-Understand that some people are not comfortable sharing their pronouns. Some people would prefer that you call them by their name. This is particularly true for some people who may feel they are being asked to share information that they are not ready to share.

DO-Be patient with yourself and others. If you make a mistake, apologize, make the correction and move on.

Don’t!

DON’T-Refer to pronouns such as “they/them/their” or “ze/zir/zirs” as “gender-neutral pronouns.” While some people identify as gender-neutral, many don’t see themselves as gendered, but as gender nonconforming. Better language is “non-binary pronouns.”

DON’T- Describe the pronouns someone uses as “preferred pronouns.” It is not a preference. The pronouns that a person uses are their pronouns and the only ones that should be used for them.

DON’T-Say “male pronouns” and “female pronouns.” Pronouns are not necessarily tied to someone’s gender identity: some people use “he/him/his” or “she/her/hers,” but do not identify as male or female, respectively.

If Denise Buell is sending e-mails like this today, what sort of e-mails will she be sending in 15 years?

Also, what does President Mandel think about this topic?

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Paul on Gay Rights

Professor Darel Paul writes in First Things:

Culture wars are never strictly cultural. They are always economic and political struggles as well. Elites rule through an interlocking political-­economic-cultural system. The mainstream media certifies whose political ideas are respectable and whose are extremist. Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Wall Street, academia, and white-shoe professional firms are all part of the postindustrial “knowledge economy” that allocates economic rewards. As American elites become increasingly integrated and culturally ­homogenous, they begin to treat their cultural rivals as subordinate classes. The same thing happened nearly a century ago to the rural and small-town Protestants whom H. L. Mencken derided as the “booboisie.” Many would like to see it happen again, this time to anyone who challenges the dogmas of diversity and progressivism that have become suspiciously universal among the richest and most powerful Americans, dominating the elite institutions they control. If cultural traditionalists want to survive, they must not only acknowledge but embrace the class dimensions of the culture war.

Indeed. Is Professor Paul simply describing these dynamics or is he also a participant, doing his own small part to fight these battles at Williams?

Should we devote more time to Paul’s article? It is an interesting read throughout.

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Welcome Dula ’23, Cohn ’23, Altmann ’23 and Lynch ’23

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The Admissions Office was, undoubtedly, impressed by Dula’s essays and teacher recommendations.

Oh, wait! This was posted on July 5th. Dula has not written his application essays nor has he sought any teacher recommendations.

None of which is Dula’s fault. He does not make the rules. He is a subject of a system which expects him to create videos of his athletic performance while his family pays thousands of dollars to participate in various club teams and showcase events. The pay-off comes when Williams tells him, during the summer of his junior year in high school, that he has been admitted.

And I have no particular problem with this system, except with the hypocrisy which comes, not from Dula, but from Williams, from the College’s constant pretending that athletics is just one “attribute” among many, that Admissions treats exceptional violin players the same way we treat exceptional lacrosse players. We don’t.

And Dula is far from the only already-admitted member of the class of 2023. Congratulations, also, to Jacob Cohn ’23.

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Athletic admissions at Williams has very little to do with normal admissions. The vast majority of the 70 tips (and 30 or so protects) are told by a coach, in the summer after their junior year of high school, that they will be admitted to Williams if they apply early decision. No one cares about their personal essays or teacher recommendations.

Other examples of early athletic admissions this year include Nick Altmann and, lest you think this is only about male athletes, Emma Lynch.

The most offensive aspect to this whole process is how much time it takes away from under-paid high school teachers. Even though Lynch has already been admitted to Williams, the College will still require her to submit recommendation letters, so some poor Weymouth math teacher is going to get to spend an October evening writing a letter about her that no one will ever read . . .

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Anyone Home at the Record?

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Karabel on the History of Admissions

“Status-Group Struggle, Organizational Interests, and the Limits of Institutional Autonomy: The Transformation of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, 1918-1940” (pdf) provides a useful overview of elite admissions between the world wars. Highly recommended for those too busy to go through his magisterial The Chosen. Williams College mentions include:

K1

K2

K3

K4

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Tenure Decisions

The College announced that four professors have been tenured: Phoebe A. Cohen, Laura Ephraim, Eric Knibbs and Gregory Mitchell.

Congratulations from EphBlog!

Would readers be interested in a close reading of their contributions to Williams so far and speculation about what we can expect from them in the future?

But, as always, what is unsaid is almost as interesting as what is said. We know who Williams tenured. We don’t know, precisely, who Williams turned down for tenure. Were there any? (Note that tenure denials are much less common than they were 30 years ago, so there may have been none.)

The only (?) other faculty hired in the 2012-2013 academic year on tenure track lines (in addition to the four newly tenured profs) were Jimmy Blair (Chemistry), Annelle Curulla (French), Ryan Coyne (Religion), Yong Suk Lee (Economics), Candis Watts Smith (Political Science) and Qing (Wendy) Wang (Statistics). It should not be hard to figure out what happened to them . . .

Worth discussing?

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Faculty Compensation

These charts from the Chronicle of Higher Education provide an update on faculty salaries at Williams:

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Previous discussions here and here. Worth spending a week on?

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Rafts and Rafts of Administrative Energy

A friend passes along the latest all-faculty e-mail (available in full below the break) which starts with:

It is with great excitement that I write to you on behalf of the Collaborative for Faculty Development (CFD) to invite you to the inaugural Faculty Essentials Fair, an expo event to be held on Wednesday, September 5th, from 9:30-11:30am in Sawyer Library.

The Collaborative for Faculty Development is a group comprised of faculty and staff that Rhon Manigault-Bryant began two years ago in her role as Associate Dean. CFD members are representatives from different “institutional branches” whose primary work is to interact with, program for, and support faculty at Williams College.

Our correspondent notes:

it has been interesting, over the years, to track the multiplication at Williams of events, meetings and the like with no clearly defined purpose or agenda. rafts and rafts of administrative energy, outstripping all need. also note how far into this email you have to read before you have any idea what it’s even about.

the idea that one can enter a drawing to have money added to one’s research account is, finally, really odd. if profs need extra money for research shouldn’t they ask the dean of the faculty? if they don’t need extra research money, should they be getting it in the first place?

Exactly right. But my complaint is different. Williams faculty members should focus on Williams students, on being in the classroom with them. Professors Rhon Manigault-Bryant (previous Associate Dean) and Katarzyna Pieprzak (current Associate Dean) are excellent teachers! They belong in a Williams classroom, teaching Williams students, every semester. All this administrative hoo-haw takes them away from that calling, from the fundamental purpose of Williams.

How might Maud Mandel help? Simple! Require that faculty administrators continue to maintain a full teaching load. There would still be a dozen or more Williams faculty who would love to start up administrative ladder, who would gladly accept the position of Associate Dean under those conditions, who would understand that their administrative work would come at the cost of their research output. There is no better way to signal that teaching is what matters at Williams — which is another way of saying that undergraduates matter most at Williams — then by requiring all faculty to teach.

Odds of Mandel doing so? Approximately zero.

Full e-mail below:
Read more

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Bossong on Berkshire DA Candidate Forum

Meg Bossong ’05, director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, writes:

During the Berkshire County district attorney forum on July 31, the candidates for DA were asked about two campus sexual assault bills pending in the Legislature.

In his response, Paul Caccaviello chose to describe the complex problem of campus sexual assault by pointing to Williams College, specifically, for failing to report incidents of sexual violence to the criminal legal system and to advocate for the legal rights of student survivors of intimate violence.

Mr. Caccaviello’s assertions are patently and categorically false. His own predecessor, David Capeless, refuted this point in a lengthy interview with iBerkshires in 2014, saying “My understanding from talking to [Williamstown Police] Chief [Kyle] Johnson is that when [Williams] gets incidents, they report it to the police. Even when the victim doesn’t want to talk to the police, they tell the police just so they know. Unfortunately, there’s been a misunderstanding of what colleges are doing. It’s too easy to think that they have every reason to suppress the idea that there are assaults on their campus. But they’re not suppressing the information.”

To be effective in advocating on behalf of crime victims, advocates — whether on campus, in community-based agencies like the Elizabeth Freeman Center, or in the DA’s own victim-witness advocacy program — have to help victims understand their options, and the benefits and barriers to accessing them. Williams presents students with all their legal and disciplinary options, and supports them in accessing those, either directly or via connection with off-campus resources.

Survivors of violence often weigh whether they can endure the publicity and pain of a criminal proceeding. That self-searching, at the same time they are reacting to and trying to begin their recovery from trauma, has to include a consideration of whether a criminal complaint is likely to lead to a conviction.

The DA’s office makes the final choice about whether to pursue prosecution in cases of sexual violence that occur in Berkshire County. This includes cases affecting students of the four colleges located here. Mr. Caccaviello needs to tell the voters of our county how many cases of peer-to-peer, alcohol-involved sexual assault and rape his office has chosen to bring to trial, and how many cases they have pleaded out to lesser, non-sexual offenses or agreed to continue without a finding.

With that information, the voters of Berkshire County can decide on Sept. 4 whose advocacy has come up short.

Hmmm. I confess to not following the politics of this closely. Thoughts:

1) Caccaviello does not strike me as the prettiest flower in the bouquet. Should we root against him?

2) Bossong is a friend (?) of EphBlog, so we are on her side in general despite (or because?!) she blocks me on social media.

3) Internal party politics are confusing. (Berkshire County is now a democratic stronghold, so whoever wins the primary will be the next DA.) Caccaviello may be smart to cast Williams College as the villain.

4) Who does Bossong favor? Who does Williams, as an institution, favor? Hard to know! The Berkshire DA has had very little to do with Williams, at least over the last few years (decades?). But a more activist DA, especially one who aspired to higher office and who wanted the (free) press associated with taking on the local giant, could be a giant headache for President Maud Mandel. Imagine a trial like Gensheimer/Foster every year . . .

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Berkshire County DA Candidate Forum

I confess that I did not watch this public forum featuring the three candidates vying to become the next Berkshire Country District Attorney. Did anyone? Previous discussion here.

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Best not to major in #business

Professor Jax Hidalgo tweets:

1) The Forbes article is garbage because it ignores inputs. Lots of less intelligent people — who probably shouldn’t go to college in the first place — major in “business.” Elite schools, like Williams, don’t even offer business as a major. So, it is hardly surprising that business majors do poorly.

2) I am embarrassed for Hidalgo that she does not seem to realize this.

3) There is a great senior thesis to be written about Williams majors and life outcomes. Who will write it?

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Not Being Welcomed, Included, or Accepted

Latest all-faculty e-mail:

From: Marlene Sandstrom
Date: Mon, Aug 13, 2018 at 2:59 PM
Subject: syllabus planning and student support
To: WILLIAMS-FACULTY@listserv.williams.edu

Dear Colleagues,

I hope this note finds you well. As we hit mid-August, many of you will begin the process of creating or updating your course syllabi. I’d like to take this opportunity to suggest a few topics for inclusion: (1) the honor code, (2) access to health/accessibility resources, and (3) inclusivity and classroom culture.


The honor code
:
Please consider including a statement about how the honor code (and academic integrity) applies to your coursework. The syllabus is a great place to introduce students to any specific requirements you have about citation, collaboration, use of resource materials, or other issues particular to your work. Even if you plan to provide specific instructions on individual assignments, including information about the honor code in the syllabus sends an important signal about the importance of academic integrity in your classroom.

In addition to outlining general expectations, consider including a statement that encourages students to ask questions if they are unsure about a particular practice or rule (e.g., “If you have any questions about how the honor code applies to your work, please come talk with me. I am always happy to have those conversations.”

One issue that has become increasing thorny for the Honor Committee over the past few years involves the nature of collaborative work. In many instances, faculty allow (and strongly encourage) students to collaborate in some ways and for some assignments, but not in others. The Honor Committee has been hearing a large number of cases in which students seem confused about what sorts of collaborative work are being encouraged, even when faculty believe they had been clear. The syllabus provides a good opportunity for clarity. Rather than providing students with a general principle (e.g., “Students may consult with other students as long as the work they turn in is their own”) you might want to consider being more specific about your expectations around collaboration. What you choose to write will vary depending on the nature of your assignments and expectations, but one example of more detailed language around collaborative work might be: “Students can exchange broad ideas or general approaches toward problem sets with other students, but may not engage in any joint writing or step-by-step problem solving. One way to be sure you are not violating the honor code is to refrain from writing/typing/crafting your response to the assignment with others. Rather, save the writing until you are on your own and working independently.”

Health/Accessibility resources:
Both students and faculty have asked about ways to ensure that students know the resources they can turn to for disabilities and other health issues that affect their academic work. We are continuing to work on improving outreach from our office directly to students regarding these resources. You may wish to include a brief pointer to appropriate resources in your syllabus. Some sample language to consider: “Students with disabilities of any kind who may need accommodations for this course are encouraged to contact Dr. GL Wallace (Director of Accessible Education) at 597-4672. Also, students experiencing mental or physical health challenges that are significantly affecting their academic work or well-being are encouraged to contact me and to speak with a dean so we can help you find the right resources. The deans can be reached at 597-4171.”

Inclusivity and classroom culture
:
You might want to consider including a statement in your syllabus that underscores your commitment to a respectful and inclusive classroom climate. Some sample language to consider: The Williams community embraces diversity of age, background, beliefs, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, and other visible and nonvisible categories. I welcome all students in this course and expect that all students contribute to a respectful, welcoming and inclusive environment. If you feel that you are not being welcomed, included, or accepted in this class, please come to me or a college administrator to share your concern.

Many thanks to the faculty members who have contributed to the suggested language provided here. Please use whatever you find helpful, and feel free to share additional ideas with me, so that I can pass them along to others.. Also, feel free to get in touch if you’d like to discuss any of these issues further. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer. May time slow down for these last few weeks, and may late August be restorative!

All best wishes,

Marlene

Marlene J. Sandstrom
Dean of the College and Hales Professor of Psychology

1) Isn’t it pretty stupid for every single syllabus to include the exact same language about these issues? Don’t we have a student handbook or some other common means to cover these topics?

2) Put yourself in the shoes of a junior faculty member. The Dean of the College asks you to “consider” using this in your syllabus:

If you feel that you are not being welcomed, included, or accepted in this class, please come to me or a college administrator to share your concern.

Emphasis added. What choice do you have but to include this sniveling invitation to every trouble-making snitch?

3) We have some faculty readers. Will you be including this (newish?) language in your syllabi? Do you think your junior colleagues feel compelled to?

4) What are the standards by which we might determine if a student is, objectively, being “accepted” in a class? Is it possible to be welcomed and included, but not accepted?

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Zach Wood ’18 in Washington Post

From last month:

When I came to Williams, none of my classmates knew about my mother’s illness, my family’s poverty. At the time, I thought that if I told someone, they would see me differently, in a light less positive than I desired.

Ashamed of my past, I pretended it didn’t exist.

But after two semesters, something happened. I was taking a course called “Challenges of Knowing,” when my professor explained that his study of the Holocaust, particularly the stories of survivors, had led him to the conclusion that anecdotal evidence serves a unique purpose: It humanizes facts, figures and abstract ideas in ways that allow us to cultivate empathy and compassion.

He said that as a quantitative social scientist, he valued reliable metrics and good data, but that stories about people’s lived experiences often give texture and meaning to the more technical knowledge surrounding complicated issue areas, particularly for those outside of academia. He went on to discuss the power of confronting trauma, and how, in the context of the Holocaust, the stories of brave survivors help many of us to think about that period of history in a more detailed and complex way.

I’d read many novels and memoirs, and I believed as strongly as anyone that literature could be quite powerful. To me, learning about other people’s stories was fascinating and enlightening.

Yet I hadn’t thought much about how confronting pain and speaking openly about traumatic experiences could strengthen those who mustered the courage to do so.

After listening to my professor speak about the power of vulnerability in the context of the Holocaust — whose survivors had endured the unimaginable — I started to think about my past in a different light.

Read the whole thing. Who was the professor? Kudos to them for having such a positive effect on Zach. And kudos to Jim Reische for tweeting out a link to this article, even though Zach has not always brought Williams the kind of press it would prefer . . .

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Beyond The Log, 15

“Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf) is a product of the Williams Oral History Project, led by Bob Stegeman ’60. It features a discussion with Professors Fred Rudolph ’42 and John Hyde ’52, along with former President John Chandler about Williams presidents from Paul Ansel Chadbourne (1872-81) to Tyler Dennett (1934-37). Let’s spend three weeks discussing it. Day 15.

(King1893NYC)_pg245_DELMONICOS,_BEAVER_AND_WILLIAMS_STREETSFred Rudolph: Now, let’s go back to that evening at Delmonico’s in 1871. Both Bascom and Garfield were charting the future course of the College. Bascom, alert to developments in higher education, knew that the Williams of Mark Hopkins was going to have to meet the challenges posed by the new president of Harvard, Charles W. Eliot, who was using electives to open up the curriculum to new learning, and to the opening of Cornell in 1867, whose founder Ezra Cornell had announced: “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.” James A. Garfield, on the other hand, while not denying Bascom’s challenges, reminded his audience that the center of an institution of learning was the relationship between a talented teacher and a willing student. And he gave the College an aphorism with which to remind itself across the years when it grappled with the realities represented by Eliot and Cornell.

In the presidents considered this morning we found Chadbourne holding the future at bay, and Carter transforming Williams into a gentleman’s college that Harry Garfield would clarify and rationalize and that Tyler Dennett would challenge and rethink.

And Maud Mandel will?

And Maud Mandel should?

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Beyond The Log, 14

“Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf) is a product of the Williams Oral History Project, led by Bob Stegeman ’60. It features a discussion with Professors Fred Rudolph ’42 and John Hyde ’52, along with former President John Chandler about Williams presidents from Paul Ansel Chadbourne (1872-81) to Tyler Dennett (1934-37). Let’s spend three weeks discussing it. Day 14.

John Chandler: Fred, take us back to the period right after Carter’s twenty-year tenure ended and the trustees apparently were having difficulty appointing a successor. The New York Times reported that the trustees were unable to select anyone. The vote was split about five different ways, and no candidate came close to having a majority. That’s when Hewitt became acting president. And then after Hewitt, Henry Hopkins was chosen at the age of sixty-four, which even today would be extraordinary. What was going on that they apparently were having such a hard time agreeing upon Carter’s successor?

Fred Rudolph: Hewitt was even older than Henry Hopkins, and that may be why he wasn’t named permanent president. In any event, my guess is that the trustees had to decide whether they wanted another Carter or needed breathing time while they decided how they were going to deal with the clear ascendancy of the American university. During that period Dartmouth, under the leadership of William Jewett Tucker (1893-1909), decided it was not going to be a small college any more. Williams, by contrast, decided that it was going to be a good, small, Christian college and, I would say, one that catered to rich men’s sons. Nothing much happened during the Henry Hopkins era. It was a holding operation. Whether the trustees were considering Harry Garfield at that time I don’t know. When Garfield was chosen president in 1908, he had been on the Princeton faculty only four years. When Henry Hopkins was named president in 1902, Garfield was a politician in Cleveland. But he also taught law at Western Reserve, and some people may have viewed him as a possible president of Williams when Hewitt and then Henry Hopkins were chosen.

The speeches at Hopkins’ 1902 induction made clear that the College was sensitive to the challenges it was being asked to meet. The retiring acting president, Hewitt, assured the audience that Williams had no university ambitions and did not believe all studies were equal. The trustee speaker, apparently reassuring an audience that was aware of all the new fraternity houses on Main Street, asserted that Williams was not an aggregation of social clubs nor a pleasure resort. The alumni speaker declared as how the future of the small college was about to be determined: a liberal arts college or a university prep school. Whatever the future, the student speaker was pleased to applaud Franklin Carter for having given Williams “the mark of patrician gentility.” Henry Hopkins himself came down on the side of “the well-rounded man,” on the side of athletics and Christianity. Above all, I believe, the trustees thought they had to be very careful. The big question was, “How are we going to define ourselves in this new environment?” The eventual choice of Garfield seems to me to be a decision to move forward in important ways.

Here are the speeches given at Hopkins inaugural. (When/why was the terminology changes from “inaugural” to “induction?”)

UPDATE: Alas, the link is broken. Does no one at Williams care about our history?

Which do you like the best?

The student speaker, George Frederick Hurd ‘1903, began his speech:

It is not often that the undergraduate perceives the institution of the College in its real proportions. We see one part of the structure, one manifestation of its life, and think that we are in touch with the whole. Our interest in the curriculum asserts that this department of activity is supreme in its usefulness and importance. The exultation of the athletic triumph cries that proficiency in the sports is, after all, the greatest thing to be achieved, and that to this end we owe our first duty. It is only on some great occasion, when the several elements which compose the real College are brought together, and each appears in its proper place and relation, that there rises before us as a novel thing a concept of the largeness and dignity of the institution. It is then that we are moved with a great enthusiasm and a great spirit of loyalty; and so on this great day, in this gathering of the officers, faculty, alumni, and students, all the elements which together make up the unit Williams College, we are profoundly moved, and the words which we speak come from our hearts.

Will there be a student speaker next month? (I hope so.) What should she say?

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Beyond The Log, 13

“Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf) is a product of the Williams Oral History Project, led by Bob Stegeman ’60. It features a discussion with Professors Fred Rudolph ’42 and John Hyde ’52, along with former President John Chandler about Williams presidents from Paul Ansel Chadbourne (1872-81) to Tyler Dennett (1934-37). Let’s spend three weeks discussing it. Day 13.

John Chandler: Let’s look at the argument between Bascom and Garfield in the context of what was going on in higher education nationally during that period. I’m referring to movements and trends that you’ve written a lot about—the creation of the land-grant colleges, the development of research universities, debates about whether the Oxbridge classical model was still relevant, and growing interest in German higher education, with its emphasis on research and publication. New places like Johns Hopkins and Cornell were very different from Williams, and even nearby Union College developed a dual-track curriculum that enabled students to follow either the classical model or focus on science and modern languages. Were these matters being discussed at Williams?

Fred Rudolph: That kind of discussion did go on at Williams, but Chadbourne did not encourage it. In fact, one of the remarkable statements Chadbourne made in the context of what you’re talking about was, “You know, I could teach every subject in the curriculum.” When Ira Remsen, a newly appointed professor of chemistry and physics, asked if he could have some space for a laboratory, Chadbourne cautioned, “You must remember that this is a college and not a technical institute.”

Four years later Remsen was on his way to a distinguished career as a chemist, and later president, at the new Johns Hopkins University. Specialization was the new order, but at Williams deciding how to deal with it was pushed forward into the twentieth century. John Haskell Hewitt was named temporary president (1901-1902) and the trustees brought Mark Hopkins’ son Henry (Class of 1858) out of a Kansas City, Mo. pastorate to be president (1902-1908). The trustees were getting nervous about what the future of a place like Williams should be, given what was going on in the rest of the world. Williams became a wealthy college in the 1880s during Carter’s administration, and it might have chosen to go in different directions, but the Hewitt and Henry Hopkins appointments suggest that the trustees did not yet know in what direction they wanted to go.

Whatever you think of fraternities, they were intended to be instruments for fostering gentlemanly conduct. The Mark Hopkins era was still principally about students becoming good Christians. There was always an internal war at the College over the question, What are we here for?

What, indeed?

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Beyond The Log, 12

“Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf) is a product of the Williams Oral History Project, led by Bob Stegeman ’60. It features a discussion with Professors Fred Rudolph ’42 and John Hyde ’52, along with former President John Chandler about Williams presidents from Paul Ansel Chadbourne (1872-81) to Tyler Dennett (1934-37). Let’s spend three weeks discussing it. Day 12.

Fred Rudolph: James A. Garfield’s remark about Mark Hopkins and the log was in response to a speech that Bascom had just made to Williams alumni at Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York. That event in 1871 set the stage for the main story of the Williams presidents in the era that we’re discussing today. In effect, John Bascom said to the alumni, “You may love the place, but it’s in a mess. It’s got a president who’s sitting on his ass. The place is too close to Pownal, too far from New York and Boston, where the action is. There’s no library, there are no laboratories, the trustees are too old. The place really needs attention.”

That upset Garfield, and he got up and said, “Well, but the ideal college is Mark Hopkins on one end of a log and a student on the other.” That was the beginning of the argument over whether the future of Williams lay with Bascom’s vision or Garfield’s aphorism.

Chadbourne paid hardly any attention to Bascom, who soon left for the University of Wisconsin, where Chadbourne himself had been president before coming to Williams in 1872. Bascom would like to have been president of Williams, I think. There’s some interesting correspondence in the Library of Congress between Bascom and Garfield about what they both said that night, and what they meant. Garfield said, in effect, “I didn’t mean that we shouldn’t have libraries and laboratories.” I don’t think Bascom ever said anything to suggest that he didn’t mean what he said. No president since 1872 including Adam Falk, who has yet to take over, has been free from the questions raised by that evenings’ contest between Bascom and Garfield over just how much and in what ways an old New England liberal arts college should accommodate itself to challenging developments in society and learning.

Indeed. How do you predict Maud Mandel will handle this century-old dispute?

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